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Boys basketball season tips off TuesdayPosted Monday, November 24, 2008, at 7:25 PM
With apologies to college and professional basketball teams and the high school girls basketball squads, who have already started the 2008-09, the basketball season -- the boys basketball season -- tips off locally Tuesday night when Eastern Greene entertains Owen Valley in the new 3,000 seat gymnasium at EGHS.
Over the next five nights, all area teams, with the exception of Linton-Stockton, will play at least once to start the season. The Miners' game at North Knox has been moved to from Saturday to Thursday, Feb. 12. Linton-Stockton would not have been able to get in the required five practices before the game unless they practiced on Thanksgiving.
"Because of football and Thanksgiving this week, it was almost impossible for us to play the North Knox game as scheduled," said Darren Clayton. "We were hoping to have to put basketball off another week because of the football state finals."
Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel said his 2008-09 Thunderbirds will be physically stronger and expects this to be one of his deepest teams.
"We are all excited about having the chance to play in this beautiful new gymnasium," he said. "We are hoping that we can turn things around and start getting the respect back for Eastern Greene basketball.
"Owen Valley will be a good challenge to begin the season."
The Patriots have beaten the Thunderbirds five straight times to start things the past five years. Back in 2002, Eastern Greene last defeated Owen Valley 72-67 in three overtimes in Toby Yoho Gymnasium, the former home of the Thunderbirds.
"I think there are things we are all going to miss about that gym," said Igel. "But I think everybody is going to like the new gym."
Eastern Greene has everyone back with the exception of 6-7 center Ben Arthur.
David McNeal led the team in scoring (10.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg) during a 3-18 season in 2007-08.
Three more local teams will start the season Wednesday as Bloomfield will travel to Union (Dugger) as the Cardinals will be playing the first of five consecutive Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference games to begin 2008-09.
Coach Ron McBride has compiled a 215-143 record in his 15 previous seasons at Bloomfield.
Junior forward Andy Cochrane and senior center Ricky Tally combined to score almost 20 points per game a year ago. Both return from a 12-10 2007-08 season.
The Bulldogs were 7-14 a year ago in the first season under coach Clarence Johnson.
He has 20 players in the program, including seniors B.J. Howard and Logan Chesterfield. Howard had a breakout season as a junior, scoring 25 points on three occasions as he finished with a 15.3 ppg average, more than double what he averaged as a junior.
Chesterfield also scored in doubled figures on average, hitting for more than 10 points per game.
Bloomfield has won 11 straight games over Union (Dugger), including the past six season-openers. The teams used to play in mid-December as part of the Christmas Classic at White River Valley, but it became the first contest for both teams when the Thanksgiving Classic at WRV also was disbanded.
Union (Dugger) last defeated Bloomfield March 10, 2000 when the Bulldogs won 68-59 in the sectional semifinals. UHS went on to the win the sectional, regional and semistate that season before falling to Lafayette Central Catholic 82-70 in the Class A state title game.
After winning 13 games, and losing eight, last year, White River Valley will open the season with a home game Wednesday against Shoals.
With a 56-55 Shoals victory over WRV in Martin County in 2005, the Wolverines have not lost to the Jug Rox in the past 15 seasons.
They blasted Shoals 70-33 on the road a year ago.
Jared Shelton, Levi Hostetter, who is recovering from knee surgery, Jake Birch and Ethan Dyer are four returning lettermen that coach Gene Hall will have at his disposal.
Hall has won 19 games and lost 26 in his two years at WRV.
"Obviously everyone is anxious to get the season started and see how you look against somebody other than yourself," said Hall. "We think we have a chance to be a pretty good team, but it will come down to how we defend.
"We hope to be playing our best basketball in late February and March."
Brian Smith, a graduate of Worthington and former assistant coach at WRV, is starting his second season at Shoals.
Even with the Linton-Stockton--North Knox game off the card, there will still be three boys basketball games Saturday night.
WRV will play at Vincennes Rivet. It will be the first game for the Patriots.
Coach Tim Vieke is 34-34 in his three previous seasons at Rivet, including winning 12 of 21 games last year.
Somebody told me that Rivet might even be better than they were last year.
Rivet topped the Wolverines 58-50 at Switz City a year ago.
Shakamak will begin defense of its Class A sectional championship as well as its Greene County Invitational title Saturday night at home against North Vermillion.
It will be the first game for Steve Brett as coach of the Lakers. The former coach at Bloomfield, Seymour and Loogootee inherits a Shakamak team that returns four starters from last year's 19-6 season.
This will be the fourth meeting in the past four seasons for the Falcons and the Lakers. Shakamak has won the previous three, including a 73-55 road victory last November.
Before facing NV, the Lakers, for four seasons, were part of a traveling tournament that including Washington Catholic, North Central, Vincennes Rivet and Southwestern (Hanover) to begin the season.
The most intriguing game of the week could be Bloomfield at Eastern Greene on Saturday night.
The Cardinals have three consecutive wins over the T-Birds, but the teams have split the last 16 meetings.
It will be the second game of the week for both squads. One of the most interesting parts of this series, which dates back to 1961, the first year for Eastern Greene, is the fact is that it never seems to be in the same place on the schedule.
It was right before Christmas the past three years and then on Dec. 27 the year before that.
In the 2004-05 season, Bloomfield opened the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic with a victory over the T-Birds.
Two months later, EGHS got even with a victory over the Cards at home.
They two teams met on Jan. 3 in the 2003-04 season and on the identical date in the 2002-03 campaign.
It was back to December for 2001-02 when the Cardinals won that infamous 12-11 game at Glover Gymnasium.
They also played in December 2000 to start of 00-01 season and the Cards and T-Birds met Feb. 29, 2000 to end the 99-00 campaign, just a week for the sectional.
In November 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998, the two schools opened the season on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Hopefully the two teams have come to a mutual agreement about playing the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Even if it is not set in stone, no matter. It should be good entertainment this Saturday as Igel and McBride will match wits once again. It will well be worth the price of admission of local hoop fans.
Best of luck to all area teams this year.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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